It’s not often you find a band with two centuries-worth of experience, but the Desperate Measures String Band is just that experienced. Not to mention the fact that its members could treat your child’s illness, manage your portfolio, suspend your child from elementary school, file a lawsuit for you, or do whatever it is that employees of the Department of the Interior do. “We’re a bunch of ex-hippies that have gone ‘legitimate,'” jokes band manager Rick Walters, who sings and plays dobro and lap steel. The members of Desperate Measures String Band, most of whom are over 40, started playing in junior high or high school in pick up bands or garage bands. They got together a couple years ago to play the type of music Walters describes as “edgegrass.” “We all have a fondness for bluegrass and traditional music, but we grew up listening to people like the Flying Burrito Brothers (formed from outcasts from the Byrds, they started playing what they called cosmic country),” Rick said. “Everything we do has something of a traditional connection. We play great, enduring songs that not a lot of people have heard.” Their influences include Jerry Douglas, Bill Monroe, Alison Krauss, Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, Old and In the Way, Steve Earle, and David Lindley. The style incorporates alternative, country/western, folk, and jazz/blues. Walters has considerable performance experience, having worked in concert with Pete Seeger, John Hartford, and Norman Blake in the 70s and 80s. Katie, the sole woman in the group, also has extensive solo vocal performance experience. Her participation has allowed the band to take on a wider repertoire of songs. Her voice is incredible. “When we advertised for a female vocalist, I listened to her audition,” Walters said. “The first thing she wanted to sing was an Aretha Franklin tune. And it just about lifted the pictures off the walls.” The band members, who dedicate their Sunday evenings to long practice sessions and practice on their own throughout the week, added Bonnie Raitt’s “The Road is My Middle Name,” among others, to showcase Spencer’s voice. “When it clicks, when everybody is on, when it’s really working, it’s transportive. It takes you to a different place,” Walters said. While they’ve played at block parties and festivals such as the Trimborn Farm Harvest Festival in New Berlin, the fledgling band holds their first Milwaukee performance Feb. 9, 7 p.m., at Onopa Brewing Company. Why Riverwest? “One of the reasons that we are all so excited about doing this gig is the Riverwest neighborhood seems to express the same kind of values that we grew up on,” Walters said. “From an [East Sider’s] perspective, the people who seem to be leading things forward in Riverwest are raising the important questions in a time when a big part of our nation is a bunch of self-interested splinter groups… there seems to be more humanity here.”
by Sonya Jongsma Knauss
Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 2 – February 2003
Come Hear the Band’s Milwaukee Debut!
February 9 at 7:00 PM at Onopa Brewing Company.
Brady St. Pharamacy: $10.00 Gift Certificate to Restaurant. Brewed Awakenings: 10 Thermal Travel Adjustable Coffee Mugs. RIVERWEST PUB CRAWL 2003: 4 Free Admissions to 3rd Annual March 15th Event. Each a $25 value. Admission includes T-shirt, Beer samples, and 16 free Wiscosin Microbrews at 16 different RIVERWEST Taverns.”
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